Not all vegetables are annual. Here are some that come back year after year

Not all vegetables are annual.  Here are some that come back year after year

Most vegetables grown in home gardens are annual plants. They wither and die at the end of the season and need to be replanted every year to reap more crops.

But if you’re short on time or money, don’t want to bother with annual planting or want to try something new, I have just the plants for you: perennial vegetables.

If you are going to prioritize improving your soil, it should be before planting perennials. Since the bed will contain plants for years to come, this is the only chance you’ll be able to truly mix in compost or manure, even make adjustments to adjust the soil pH and dig up weeds properly by their roots without risking disturbing nearby plants. .

It is also an excellent time to incorporate organic fertilizers. Just as a house needs a good foundation, healthy plants start with healthy soil. Seize the opportunity while you have it.

One benefit of growing perennial crops is that they are generally low maintenance. Once you plant a crop, there is no need to plant it again, so you will never find yourself tilling, turning or digging the soil again as long as it is in your garden.

Going forward, sprinkle an inch or two of compost and, in most cases, a dose of granulated fertilizer over the soil each spring.

Just as when growing ornamental perennials, make sure your growing conditions match the individual requirements of your chosen plants, such as cold hardiness, pH range, sunlight exposure and water needs.

Some perennial vegetables should be allowed to become fully established in the garden before harvesting.

Asparagus, for example, is an exercise in patience. Plants should be allowed to grow undisturbed for two full years before harvesting. Plant in spring, and when third-year stems are 6-10 inches tall, use a sharp knife to cut each one slightly below the soil line. Stop harvesting in early July to allow plants to store energy for next year’s crop. (Perennial in Zones 3-8)

Rhubarb should also not be harvested immediately. However, you can sample up to four stems per plant in their second year. Plant bare-root crowns, with their shoots or “eyes” facing upward, 2 inches below the soil surface in either spring or fall, allowing 3-4 feet between plants. Starting in their third year, harvest stems when they are 12 to 18 inches tall, but never remove more than two-thirds of each plant. (Perennial in Zones 3-8)

Jerusalem artichokes — also known as sunchokes — are fast-spreading plants that can take up a lot of space in the garden, so consider planting them in their own space. Plant 3-5 inches deep and 12-18 inches apart in early spring. The easy-to-grow plants are not specific to soil type and do not require annual fertilization, but they cannot tolerate wet soil. The tubers are harvested in the fall, preferably after a few periods of light frost, which will improve their flavour. But allow some to remain in the ground to produce next year’s crop. (Perennial in Zones 3-8)

The Egyptian Walking Onion is an unusual and fun onion to grow and spreads as it “walks” across the garden bed. Not considered invasive because they are easily controlled (unwanted plants pull away easily), these bulbs grow in clusters of small bulbs (secondary bulbs that grow at the top of the plan) at the top of their stems. When they become too heavy for the plant to support, the stems bend and the bulbs rest on the soil surface. The bulbs quickly take root and grow into new plants. Harvest onions at any time and use them as you would onions, or dig full-size onions in late summer, allowing some to remain in the ground for next year. (Perennial in zones 3-9)

Jessica Damiano writes regular columns on gardening for the Associated Press and publishes the award-winning weekly newsletter. You can sign up here for weekly gardening tips and tricks.

For more AP gardening stories, go to https://apnews.com/hub/gardening.

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